If you find yourself in this situation and need help, it’s time to think of turning to an HVAC field service software for scheduling and dispatch. Look at your customer service strategy and think about how it can be improved to get what the customers want faster – a service technician at their door. After all, when the weather gets warm or cold, and customers want air conditioning and heat on, you don’t want them feeling more uncomfortable than they already are.
Use HVAC Field Service Software to Forecast
An HVAC company that is struggling with high customer volume must first try and gain as much knowledge into those trends. That’s because you can’t make critical changes unless you know exactly what you are dealing with. With a detailed service history in your HVAC software, you will be able to notice trends in service. Things to look for are:
- When do you schedule and dispatch the most technicians?
- What parts do you use the most during your busy season?
- How many hours was each technician working during those peaks?
- What was your first-time fix rate during peak season?
With HVAC field service software, you can use Business Intelligence to find trends in your service. By looking at your past service cycles, you will notice when your call volume is going to spike. This will better prepare you for the future and when you need more hands on deck to handle the increased request for service. Make changes based on real-time information and not guesses of when you will be busy. You want more staff ready to take calls. However, you don’t want that same staff sitting at their desks doing nothing because you misjudged your call volume.
Better Service Scheduling
When things get busy, there is a greater chance mistakes can be made, and there’s an even greater chance that service scheduling won’t be done at optimum levels. When call volumes rise, dispatchers have to be ready to make tough scheduling decisions. They have to balance customer service with the business’s needs. So, when work orders come in, service scheduling has to be perfected. With HVAC software, dispatchers are benefiting from more real-time information and better service scheduling mechanics.
In a typical call situation, the customer gets on the phone and relays a problem. The dispatcher can triage the problem, use skillset searches to get the right technicians and then see their entire schedule. Dispatchers aren’t going in blind or trying to use whiteboards and emails to schedule service. Instead, using HVAC field service software, they can move calls around to fill a technician’s schedule. Remove idle times and insert work orders. And with resource routing tools, optimize their route so they are lowering the amount of driving they are completing. This again opens up more time to schedule calls. And when you’re being overloaded with service requests, just a few minutes of idle time here and there can add up to another service call.
Have Alternate Communication Options
So far, we have focused on calls coming into a dispatch center. But what if there was an option to have no calls? Many in the HVAC business are turning to other forms of communication to handle their service requests. Some have even ditched the phone altogether, while others have lowered their call center team from dozens to one or two staff members. To accomplish this with HVAC field service software is to set up automation and give your customers the power to schedule service. That includes using alternate communication, including:
- Customer portals
- Email systems
- QR code scanner
- Automated phone requests
- Social media
While some of these are new to HVAC software, others have deep roots in helping to relieve high customer volume stress. With customer portals, customers can log in on their own into a portal designed for them. They can select the type of service they need, enter any notes or observations to help diagnose and schedule a call, without picking up a phone. When they hit submit, a work order can be created automatically, ready to be dispatched. And then your dispatch staff communicates back when they should expect a technician. No hold music and no wait times.
Be Ready to Pivot
Remember we said that having too many calls is a good problem to have. That means you offer excellent service and your customers trust you. So, when the phone lines are backed up and customer portals are accepting new calls every day, you may need to look in another direction to continue offering great customer service. You can hire more technicians, or you can start outsourcing work to subcontractors. Many HVAC companies are using third-party vendors today to maximize their busy seasons, without taking on more full-time technicians they would need to pay when times are slow.
With the field service mobile app connected to the HVAC field service software, subcontractors can be an extension of your business. They act like normal technicians would and with checklists and mobile apps, you can ensure the quality of service they offer is the same service your own people offer. If your data is telling you to get ready for a busy season and more calls are coming in than you can handle, pivot your business. Use your HVAC software to submit job requests to subcontractor management systems to get bids and quotes. On-board subcontractors, get them work orders and most importantly, get them paid quickly when the job is complete.
Be Prepared with HVAC Software
Managing a busy service department can be a challenge. But with the right information, you can run a smooth ship, even through the most dangerous waters. Don’t look at high customer volume as a burden on your HVAC business. Look at it for what it is, a positive that you are doing service extremely well and people are seeking you out. Figure out your service trends and prepare yourself with better scheduling tools, adding subcontractors and going mobile. Be prepared for the busy season. Get ahead of the large call volume before it gets ahead of you and customers start to look at other HVAC companies to do business with.